Thursday, September 16, 2010

Slow Living

Our baby boy was born three weeks ago on the 15th of Ramadan Alhamdulillah. I prayed up until the last minutes of Ramadan that Allah swt would make the upcoming months easy, as I struggled to manage a house full of little ones, homeschooling, and all of the other duties of a mother, wife, and housekeeper. I cried several times the day my mother left, as though a safety net was taken away and feeling that I was totally on my own with four kids.

Five days later, I feel very peaceful and content, thanks to Allah. Yes, it is crazy and I have to remind myself to breathe in between the long sequences of mechanical activities: feeding, washing, nursing, changing two diapered bottoms, cleaning up messes, laying babies down to sleep, and satisfying endless pleas for attention. At one point, I laughed at the scene we created: me in my rocking chair nursing the baby, the toddler in my other arm singing (yelling) very loudly in the baby's ear as I restrained her from putting all of her weight on the baby, my eldest giving a long narration about the different characters in her drawing, and my three-year-old whining for more yogurt at my feet.

But my mantra has been, "Smile, Breathe, and Go Slowly." No outings, no cooking (thanks to a freezer-full of food), no to-do lists, and no obligations. My expectations for myself are zero--if I can get through the day without yelling or losing my sense of compassion, and incorporating a little bit of Quran for me and the children, then I had a good day. Ironically, those days are also when I surprise myself with how much I actually end up doing to educate and nurture my children, physically, mentally, and emotionally. We've made playdough, collected tree bark rubbings, decorated sugar cookies, learned some yoga, read tons of storybooks, and spent lots of time on the couch with a blanket, pillows, and a nursing baby, talking and learning. Being confined to the house has calmed the pace of our day and my older ones are forced to tap into their own creativity to entertain themselves.

This week has been an experiment in slow family living and I'm very inspired by this new rhythm of home life!